Monday, March 26, 2007

Prayer and Bible Reading: Listening to God

Reading the Bible should be a form of prayer. The Bible should be read in God's presence and as the unfolding of His mind. It is not just a book, but God's love letter to you. It is God's revelation, God's mind, operating through your mind and your reading, so your reading is your response to His mind and will. Reading it is aligning your mind and will with God's; therefore it is a fulfillment of the prayer "Thy will be done," which is the most basic and essential key to achieving our whole purpose on earth: holiness and happiness. I challenge every reader to give a good excuse (to God, not to me, or even just to yourself) for not putting aside fifteen minutes a day to use this fundamental aid to fulfilling the meaning of your life.

Both prayer and Bible reading are ways of listening to God. They should blend: our prayer should be biblical and our Bible reading prayerful.

In Catholic theology, the Bible is sacramental: it is a sign that is an occasion for grace. The Bible fits the two classic definitions of a sacrament: (1) a visible sign instituted by Christ to give grace and (2) a sign that effects what it signifies. However, unlike the seven sacraments, it does not work ex opere operato; it does not give grace by itself, but is dependent on our use of it. ...

Though it is not a sacrament, it has power. Its power comes from two wills, God's and ours. It is the Spirit's sword (Eph 6:17) that cuts our very being apart (Heb 4:12), though we must give it an opening by exposing our minds and hearts and wills to its cutting edge. When we do that, God's Kingdom comes to earth. For it first comes to that tiny but crucially important bit of earth that is your mind and will. Then it transforms your life, which your mind and will control. Then, through your life, your world.
You Can Understand the Bible
A Practical And Illuminating Guide To Each Book In The Bible
by Peter Kreeft
I think this is why I always have identified with St. Augustine a lot (we will put aside any other reasons ... ahem). St. Augustine was converted to Catholicism by reading the Bible. Although I was not converted through reading, in fact had no idea at the time that there were books about that sort of thing, I always had my "best results" in prayer when I was reading the Bible. In fact, that is the reason I also always identified with St. Teresa of Avila, who said that she could not pray without a book.

Kreeft's commentary about prayer, reading, and aligning the mind and will with God resonate on that same level. And give me impetus to return to that prayer style which always worked so well for me. (Magnificat is good but I think I need the whole book in my case.)

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